1530s, "act of receding or going back or away" (a sense now obsolete), from Latin recessus "a going back, retreat," from recessum, past participle of recedere "to go back, fall back; withdraw, depart, retire," from re- "back" (see re-) + cedere "to go" (from PIE root *ked- "to go, yield").
Meaning "hidden or remote part" is recorded from 1610s; that of "period of stopping from usual work" is from 1620s, probably from parliamentary notion of "recessing" into private chambers. Meaning "place of retirement or seclusion" is from 1630s; that of "niche, receding space or inward indentation in a line of continuity" is from 1690s.
1809, "place in a recess," literal or figurative, from recess (n.). By 1845 as "make a recess in." Intransitive sense of "take a recess, adjourn for a short time" is by 1893. Related: Recessed; recessing.